17 thoughts on “Swan Island Shipyards, circa 1945

  1. What a GREAT photo! Just look at all that memorable playground equipment!

    “My turn!”
    “No…it’s MY turn!”
    No…me first!”
    “You were first last time!”

    Yeah…great photo! Thanks!

  2. Is this an elementary school or just a day care? The kids are organized by age group, very nice building design, state of the art for its day.

  3. If you look at the ariel that brian posted you can see that the Navy Reserve constructed what appears to be either a rectangular gymnasium or an assembly hall right in the middle of the circular building. I’m guessing the original architect would not be happy with that addition. So much natural light blocked by that addition and the unsympathetic rectangle, why not an octagon big enough to house a basketball court?

  4. New construction was limited during the war, and design aesthetics were not a priority post-war. It was all about cost containment and speed of construction, mostly because materials and labor rates had increased significantly.

  5. Craig:

    It’s kind of the opposite of what Jet Blue did to the gorgeous mid-century modern TWA terminal at JFK International. They built a semi-circular terminal in the Brutalist style that cut off the abandoned TWA building from being repurposed as a terminal in its own right.

  6. A marvelous photo of a different time, but looking at all the faces I wondered about the African-American children. I could only spot one child that may be black. Since the shipyards had many black workers, it made me wonder about this. Were these playgrounds segregated?

  7. Fair question, Dave, but this wasn’t Jim Crow South. I think there was just a lower proportion of African American shipyard workers.

  8. John Rettg, I agree with your statement but I might speculate that the original building “was” architect designed and what I think happened is that after the Navel Reserve acquired the building they had their engineers design the assembly building in the most straight forward most cost effective manner with no consideration of aesthetics or future use.

  9. What a fun playground! Growing up during the 80s and 90s, I am glad to see what constitutes acceptable levels of risk reconsidered. Playgrounds of these eras were intentionally stripped of all potential fun by the lawyers and designers and consequentially not used.

    And is that a wading pool in the center ring?!

  10. Kitten: I doubt that is a wading pool in the center ring. I would think people would need to walk across the central area. And it looks small for a wading area, but…

  11. The legend next to the architectural plan references the center structure #11 as “Wading Pool”. Hard to see. I was born on the Overlook bluff in the background of this photo and recall the building through several remodels.

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